Cardiff Castle facts, 25 things you didn't know
Standing tall and proud in the heart of Cardiff, Cardiff Castle is one of Wales’ top historic attractions. This site of international significance has witnessed over 2000 years of history. To visit Cardiff Castle, hop on the Tootbus Cardiff Discovery tour and hop off at stop 1.
- Cardiff Castle is located in the Castle Quarter, in the heart of Cardiff, the capital of Wales. There has been a fort on the site for almost 2000 years.
- The first Roman fort at Cardiff was probably established at the end of the 50s AD, on a strategic site that afforded easy access to the sea. It was built from stone and remains of these Roman walls can still be seen today from inside the castle grounds.
- The current building was built in the late 11th century, replacing the Roman fort.
- The castle was constructed by the Normans to support their expansion into Wales.
- The castle was commissioned either by William the Conqueror or by Robert Fitzhamon, and formed the heart of the mediaeval town of Cardiff.
- The twelve-sided keep at Cardiff is known as a ‘shell’ keep because its outer walls provided a shell for smaller buildings within. Breath-taking panoramic views of the city can be seen from the top of the keep, and if you look to the north you can see as far as Castell Coch!
- During Norman times the toilets hung over the castle walls, and all the waste ended up in the moat. The 'gong farmer' collected the waste during the night.
- During the 19th century, the Marquess of Bute, one of Britain’s richest men, inherited the castle. Many alterations were made to the castle although he only used it a few months out of the year. It is thanks to his family that the House was transformed into a lavish and opulent palace.
- For nearly 900 years, Cardiff Castle’s Roman past remained hidden and forgotten. It was only discovered in 1888 when the 3rd Marquess of Bute decided to build a new tower and his workmen discovered the remains of the Roman fort.
- During World War II, the castle’s tunnels were used as air raid shelters from German bombs. Almost 2000 Cardiff residents could take shelter there.
- In 1947, the castle was given to Lord Mayor Alderman George Ferguson by the Fifth Marquess of Bute. A truly royal gesture, the Castle, along with the parkland, was presented as a gift to the people of the city. Reports at the time commented that it was “no longer Cardiff Castle, but Cardiff’s Castle”.
- Cardiff residents and workers are entitled to a Castle Key, which grants them free admission to the Castle.
- Edward Dent, who made the clock in Big Ben, also manufactured the clock in the Castle’s Clock Tower.
- The castle features various architectural styles. It may be mostly Norman in style, but also has Roman and Gothic-Victorian parts.
- Some of the most ornate decoration was done by the Victorians. Some of the themes that can be seen include Biblical characters, signs of the Zodiac, the seasons and heraldic motifs. You can explore the interiors on one of the House Tours.
- The ceiling of the Arab room is one of the wonders of the castle. Known as the muqarnas ceiling, it is made of wood and covered with pure gold-leaf.
- Astrology is featured heavily in decorations on the Castle's Clock Tower, both inside and out. The statues flanking the clock faces are in fact representations of the planets, as well as the sun and moon.
- The castle is used for a variety of cultural events, such as underground film screenings and outdoor theatre performances.
- Tom Jones and Green Day performed at Cardiff Castle.
- Doctor Who, Sherlock, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures have all used Cardiff Castle as a filming location.
- During the 2015 Rugby World Cup, a giant rugby ball was installed on the exterior wall of the castle, with foam bricks that appeared to be bursting from the wall. This temporary addition reflects how much the Welsh love rugby.
- Since 1974, the Castle has become one of Wales’ most popular visitor attractions.
- You can go and relax in the Castle’s outer green, also known as the Public Square, for free.
- The castle grounds are home to several peacocks.
- You can get married at Cardiff Castle: the grounds are available for hire for your special day for a wedding in a fairy-tale castle.
Cardiff is a city with many popular tourist attractions at its heart. To continue your discovery of the city, check out our ideas of activities to do in Cardiff.